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11 states confirm Enterovirus D68 cases

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DENVER — Since mid-August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 104 cases of Enterovirus D68 in 10 states: Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and New York. Another state, Montana, also has one confirmed case, a spokesman for the state’s public health department said.

Yet the real number of severe respiratory illnesses caused by this virus is probably even higher, the CDC says.

Enteroviruses are very common, especially in the early fall. The CDC estimates that 10 million to 15 million infections occur in the United States each year. These viruses usually present like the common cold; symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and a cough.

Most people recover without any treatment. But this type of enterovirus — Enterovirus D68 — appears to be exacerbating breathing problems in children who have asthma.

The virus is hard to track, as many enteroviruses cause similar symptoms and hospitals generally do not test for specific types. But the CDC has asked hospitals around the country to send in samples if they suspect Enterovirus D68 has caused a patient’s severe respiratory illness.

Alabama and Indiana are the latest to join the growing list of states with confirmed cases, health officials say.

The Alabama Department of Public Health sent six samples from Mobile County to the CDC for testing; four came back positive for Enterovirus D68. One of the other samples was Coxsackievirus B3, and the remaining one was negative, the department said in a news release. Health care providers in the state have been asked to report clusters of severe respiratory illness.

Four children in Lake County, Indiana, were sickened by Enterovirus D68 and were treated at University of Chicago Hospital, according to a news release from the Indiana State Department of Health; all four have since been discharged from the hospital. Lake County is in the northwest corner of the state.

Other states, including Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah, are also investigating clusters of respiratory illnesses. Several have sent samples to the CDC for testing.